4. Since the war, a wide use of abortion has been legal in Japan. The developing countries have yet to accept induced abortion as a legitimate method of fertility control, with the exception of Tunisia and possibly mainland China.
Nevertheless, it appears that the Japanese example will inspire countries that wish to enhance their development by slowing down population growth. Some may be willing to accept induced abortion as a practical and legitimate means of fertility control.
Chile has less adequate abortion data than Japan; however, hospital admission statistics beginning in 1937 indicate an increasing number of abortions in proportion to deliveries.
As shown in Table 3, induced abortion increased tremendously in the period from 1937 to 1964. According to Chilean hospital data for the 24 years ending in 1960, the number of deliveries increased by 1.8 times, whereas the corresponding figure for postabortion hospital admissions increase was 4.4.
The actual occurrence of induced abortion is, of course, much higher, as interview studies as early as 1938 reveal (16-20). These studies are based on selected hospital samples and clearly indicate the widespread prevalence of abortion. (See Table 4, Part A.) More recent studies, based on better sampling procedures, also point to a higher incidence. These studies are summarized in Table 4, Part 8(21-24).
Plaza and Briones (25) studied the medical care implications of abortion cases in Santiago and provincial hospitals. The major conclusions summarized in Table 4, Part C, underline the gravity of the abortion problem in a country with limited resources.
In view of the increasing incidence of induced abortion, it may be surprising that the Chilean birth rate has changed only slightly—from 34.6 in 1936 to 32.8 in 1964. Several factors can be mentioned to explain these figures. First, the official birth rate for 1936 may have been subject to underreporting; the actual level probably was higher. Second, the death rate declined 56 percent-from 25.3 in 1936 to 11.2 in 1964; it is likely that improved survivorship together with generally improved health tended to increase fertility by extending the exposure period and by enhancing fecundity. Furthermore, age-distribution changes which have expanded the reproductive-aged segment of the population pyramid are not reflected in the crude birth rate measure which is being compared for the years 1936 and 1964. For these and related reasons, Requena and MonreaPs argument that had it not been for abortion the birth rate in Chile for the last 25 years would have been over 40 per 1,000 Latin America.